Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has issued an order to carry out several measures in the Mekong Delta to ensure the production of the winter-spring rice crop.

Under the order, authorities must monitor flood levels and repair dykes as well as inner-field irrigation systems and pumping stations.

They also must mobilise forces to pump and drain floodwater out of rice paddies, especially in low-lying areas.

The People's Committee in each province and in Can Tho City must ensure that the cultivation schedule drawn up by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) is followed.

This will prevent flooding at the beginning of planting, and drought and salination near the end.

High-quality rice seed for farmers should also be provided, and the quality and prices of input materials used for crop production must be ensured.

The PM told the People's Committees to continue developing advanced farming techniques and large-scale rice fields in coordination with the State, farmers, scientists and businesses.

Based on the Government's support policies, each province must use its local budget to provide financial support to farmers affected by floods this year so they can plant crops.

MARD will supervise the cultivation schedule, farming techniques, disease prevention and control.

It will also work with localities to monitor crop production and solve production problems.

The Ministry of Finance in cooperation with MARD will estimate the total damage caused by flooding and submit the figures to the Prime Minister, who will approve funds for farmers affected by the floods.

Farmers in the Mekong Delta, the country's rice granary, are to plant about 1,556,800ha for the winter-spring rice crop, according to MARD.

The schedule for planting rice seeds is divided into two periods, one from November 5 to 30 and the other from December 5 to 30.

The current difficulty of the winter-spring rice crop is that the Delta's upperstream provinces are still deep in floodwaters.

If the upperstream provinces plan to grow the crop early, they will have to pump floodwater out of rice paddies. The area of rice paddies to pump floodwater is about 400,000ha.

If the Delta's downstream provinces plant the crop late, their rice paddies could face drought and intrusion of saline water at the end of the crop.

This year's record floods have inundated more than 125,800 houses, destroyed more than 8,000ha of the autumn-winter rice crop and eroded more than 1,500km of dykes, according to the Central Steering Committee for Flood and Storm Prevention and Control./.